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BLAIR CALLS ELECTIONS FOR 4 WEEKS FROM NOW

Prime Minister Tony Blair today called national elections on May 5, triggering a four-week campaign that will test a volatile electorate's judgment of the Iraq war.

Despite anger over the U.S.-led invasion, Blair's governing Labor Party is widely expected to win a third term in office, bolstered by a strong economy.

"We are proud of what we have achieved in the last eight years," Blair said after asking Queen Elizabeth II's permission to dissolve Parliament.

Several opinion polls published today showed Labor giving ground slightly to the main opposition Conservative Party, although still holding a lead of between 2 and 5 percentage points.

Blair helped catapult Labor to power in 1997 and win a second landslide election victory in 2001.

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